Table of Contents


Valentine Awards 2000

The Heron's Nest
a haikai journal ... 

Home  •  Journal  •  About  •  Connections

Volume II, Number 10: October, 2000.
Copyright © 2000. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

Editor's Choices •  Haiku: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 •  Index of Poets

Heron's Nest Award

      morning stroll–
      unshared thoughts float off
      with the withered leaves
                                            H. F. Noyes

How much of what we think do we actually share with others? Literally very little. Even if afflicted with verbosity it's not remotely possible for the tongue to approach the speed of thought. The relaxed tone of this haiku leads me to believe that the poet refers to this ordinary, everyday flow of thought – all the more likely if, in fact, he is walking by himself.

But the poet may have company on his walk, someone with whom an issue has arisen. The concept of “unshared” is loaded. Are the unshared thoughts in this haiku of the everyday variety, simply flowing in and out of the poet's consciousness, or has he chosento maintain silence? Moments of opportunity present themselves to us and, for some reason, we may decide to not speak out. Those moments are quickly gone, and usually soon forgotten, but their residue tends to linger in the backs of our minds, influencing all that we do. If this poem was not so beautifully balanced the emotional connotations would conflict. But it is in balance. We are directed to an experience of peacefulness and non-attachment.

The season appears to be late autumn. Withered leaves are falling. The poet takes a morning walk, a casual walk, so he calls it a stroll. Nothing much seems to concern him. Although he couldbe with a friend, I imagine that he is alone. Either way he perceives his thoughts to be no more nor less important than withered leaves floating off in a breeze – just leaves, just thoughts.

One aspect of this haiku that helps to make it so successful is that the poet does not tell us his thoughts are likewithered leaves. In fact he describes the thoughts as floating off withthe leaves. But by placing these two images near each other he invites us to recognize for ourselves that they are different manifestations of the same phase in a single process.

Of itself, thought can be about anything. The generalized concept of thought carries no emotional charge. But withered leaves dohave emotional significance. They indicate a particular time in the cycle between birth and death, a passing away of vitality, a return to the source. The proximity of thoughts to the withered leaves lends those thoughts emotional value and gives an indication of the poet's human condition. The leaves float away; the poet is not attached.

What isthe emotional nature of this poem? It's up to each of us to decide. One reading has the feeling of “sabi”: the sense of being alone, detached, and probably at peace with that. A second reading evokes the mood of “aware”: transcience, loss, and perhaps some regret. Which ever way we choose to read these words, the poet himself is simply letting go.

Tom Noyes shares with us an experience of liberation. It is a beautifully balanced haiku that expresses willingness to accept things just as they are.

  Christopher Herold
October, 2000